The Very Short Story Starter – Prompt #4

I recently treated myself to John Gillard’s The Very Short Story Starter, which is filled with 101 flash fiction prompts that I hope will provide me with some blogging inspiration over the summer months. Here was today’s prompt, “Unrecognizable”:

Cover.jpgWrite a story from the perspective of someone who has woken up in a room or place they do not recognise (in 200 words or less).

Please feel free to have a go at this prompt, too; I would love to read what you come up with. I will be posting these prompts quite regularly, and if they spark your inspiration, please do paste a link to your story in the comments section!

Previous prompts are available here.


Caged Flesh

The first thing that I became aware of, as I resurfaced from the depths of my subconsciousness, was the pain. It burned through my entire body, making my knees buckle: a great, dull ache as though I had been forced into a too-small space.

Next came the fear. As I opened my eyes, I realised that the familiar woods were gone. The grassy scent of the trees had vanished, and been replaced by a cool, clinical smell that did not quite mask the stench of something monstrous.

I knew that smell. I had grown up with that smell, and I had grown to despise it, for it was the stench of death.

Fear now consuming all other thoughts, I tried to get to my feet, but there was something holding me back. I tried again, and heard a strange, clinking noise from around my neck.

I was just telling myself not to panic when the Strangers entered the room. They were wearing green overalls and white gloves that stretched up to their elbows. I began to struggle desperately against my bonds, screaming for help, but they took no notice of my pain.

They didn’t offer me one word of comfort as they slit my neck. All I heard was one, unfamiliar word, whispered through their masks.

“Venison.”


Word Count: 217.

Thank you ever so much for reading, and remember, if you do want to have a go at this prompt, paste a link in the comments section so that I can read it!

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Uneasy

This short story was written for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge, which invites writers to interact with one another through weekly photo prompts. My word count for this piece is at 175. Enjoy!


J. S. Brand.jpg

Credit: J. S. Brand

With each step I take, my feelings of unease seem to triple. I’ve walked this path a thousand times before, rushed through its thickets and meadows, but something’s different now. As I tread its familiar stones, my hairs stand on end and my hands grow pale and clammy.

It’s not the feeling of being watched – that’s an inaccurate clique – it’s the feeling of something being not quite right. The birds aren’t singing like they’re meant to, and the crickets and grasshoppers are strangely silent. It’s almost as if the animals have been hushed quiet by some silent, unknowable force.

I reach the top of the hill and look forward, heart racing. There’s something lying across my path, dark and unfamiliar. I want to run, but my legs no longer seem capable. Then, staring hard at the shadow, a jolt of realisation shoots through me. I didn’t recognise it at first because someone’s cut off its antlers, but, there it is. The king of the forest – a white stag – the bullet wound shining in its chest.


Click the blue froggy for more interpretations of this prompt!

Solo Shadow

Continuing on from my recent themes of animals and hunt scenes, I wrote this story for the weekly prompt competition at Ad Hoc Fiction. This week, my word was “solo” and my word count is at exactly 150. Enjoy!


He glides through the air, his powerful wings allowing him to swoop low over the ground as he scans the night. All he needs is the slightest movement – the snap of a twig or unnatural rustle of leaves – and he will dive to the floor in a desperate flurry of feathers. It doesn’t take much. The unwary rodent puts one foot wrong, and the game will be up.

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September 2016

He swoops lower: did that leaf just twitch because of the wind, or because of something else? He focusses in, and spots a vole scurrying from one bush to the next.

He dives.

The vole is plucked up by his fierce talons, just as his wings begin to beat furiously, attempting to carry him upwards. He looks down to see another vole looking up at him. It squeaks at the sight and scurries away, now a solo shadow racing into the darkness.

Hesitation

Hesitation

Photo prompt 04/07/17. Credit: Kecia Spartin

This short story was written for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers Challenge, which invites writers to interact with one another through weekly photo prompts.

My word count for this piece is at 175. Enjoy!


He doesn’t see me. He flexes his neck as he preens himself, but still he doesn’t see. It’s almost cruel, plucking him from the world without the slightest bit of notice. I want him to turn around; even if it is just the tiniest glimpse, I want him to see.

It’ll be too late, of course; even if he does see, it’s too late. He’s mine.

It shouldn’t matter, I think to myself. If anything, this is better; he’s stupid. He’s not being careful, so, in a way, it’s his own fault. I’m an innocent, just trying to survive, and he – well if he really cared, he’d be more careful.

I’m being careful. I’m looking all about myself, even now. The world’s too dangerous not to, but apparently nobody ever told him that. I stick my tongue out into the air, feeling along the leaves. I can taste him; I can taste his feathers and sharp little beak that will desperately squeak as he tries to escape.

Should have been more careful, then.

I strike.

Hesitation 2
21/05/15

 

Hunted #writephoto

I recently discovered a weekly photo prompt competition run by Sue Vincent. She provides excellent “Thursday” challenges for writers to have a go at. This week, I was keen to give the prompt my best attempt, as the photo (depicted below) deeply inspired me. There was no word-limit to this piece, so I just wrote to my heart’s content and ended up at a word count of 781. I hope you enjoy my short story!


I sit in silence. All it will take is the slightest spasm of an aching limb, or an untimely itch that I simply must scratch. I breathe deeply, slowing down my heart rate as I try to make as little noise as possible.

He’s still there, watching me. I can’t see him, but that doesn’t really mean anything. I know he’s there, because he’s always there. He’s always waiting for that one fatal mistake that I know one day will be my undoing. He doesn’t know where I am and I don’t know where he is; that’s the game. Because it is a game: it’s an endless game of dice rolling, where neither party has any control of the outcomes. The only issue is, if I lose, I don’t just lose a day’s pay or my dignity. The price is my life, and his reward is his.

Rabbi

June, 2017.

I can feel that itch now. It’s in my right leg. I want to look down and check that there’s not some horrible insect sucking at my blood, but I can’t. Even when I’m being eaten alive, I can’t move, and I can’t make a noise. All I wish for, is to hear the tell-tale rustle of leaves and snapping of leaves that tell me he’s leaving. He won’t go far, but he will move far enough that my window of escape will open, and I will run, and, as the dice are flung into the air, I will race for my life.

The itch is getting worse. How I want to scratch it, but there can’t be long to wait now; he’ll be tiring, too. He’ll feel an itch, and his muscles will buckle under the pressure. Soon. I try to calm myself down. I’m breathing too rapidly. I can’t let my own fear be the ruin of me, not when so many are depending on me. I soothe myself, closing my eyes and letting out a long breath.

It happens in an instant. Just as a sharp, jarring pain cuts across my leg from the itch, I hear the sudden rustling to my left that tells me my hunter is giving up. Too late. I gasp out in horror from the pain in my leg, and then it is too late and I am running.

I dart out from my hiding place, a clump of densely-growing leaves, and flee into the open meadows beyond. He’s still right behind me, rampaging through the undergrowth as he reaches for me. He is close: too close. There isn’t going to be enough time. He is meant to be further behind. I speed up, putting all my remaining energy into my legs. My right one is still stinging painfully, and I can feel a suspiciously warm substance trickling down it that I have a horrible feeling might be blood. I don’t have time for this, not for injury. The smell of blood will only drive my hunter on faster.

Birds

Photo prompt provided by Sue Vincent.

I duck back under the cover of trees: a detour. It’s risky, and it might cost me, but it’s also my only option, to confuse my companion into letting me keep my life. I dart around tree trunks and leap over uneven ground, always rushing and never slowing. This is it, a little voice whispers from the back of my head. You’re going to die today. You’re going to lose the game. I can almost feel his hot breath on the back of my neck, and almost sense his harsh, sharp teeth snapping at my injured leg. You’re too late, the voice whispers.

I stop running. I stand stock still, but in this single instant, time seems to slow right down. I don’t think of my hunter, storming towards me, desperate to sink his teeth into me. I think of my tiny, little home, tucked away under the trees barely two metres from where I stand now. I could make it, of course I could. But I can’t. Under those trees, four little babies lie all snuggled together, their eyes bright and innocent, and their mouths hungry, desperate for the food that only I can bring them.

They will have to go hungry tonight, but they are old enough by now. It isn’t fair and it isn’t right, but they are going to have to feed themselves from now on. It’s better to risk that, whispers the voice, rather than to lead this monster right to them. Right to your babies. You can’t do that. You can’t kill them.

So, I listen to the voice. I don’t move, because I can’t move. I don’t feel angry. Everyone loses sometimes; everyone must lose. I don’t mind. I’m ready.

My Jar of Flies

This piece of creative writing is for the purposes of the competition at Ad Hoc Fiction. With only 150 words and this week’s prompt word, “jar”, this competition gives its winner free entry into the Bath Flash Fiction Award, which promises a prize of £1000! 

I keep a jar of flies at my bedside.

I’ve had it for as long as I can remember, watching them fly and buzz as they crawl over each other in their desperate need to escape.

I don’t hurt them, after all, prodding them or poking them, like some corrupted child.

I only watch them.

I think.

I think how I am not a fly, and how lucky I am.

No one helps a fly.

No one cares.

I like watching my jar of flies. Whenever I am scared or put down, I just stare.

I’m okay, because I am not a fly.

People care.

I am not a fly.

The Truth Hurts

The Ad Hoc Fiction competition offers a weekly £1000 prize for just 150 words entered. If nothing else, this gives a person the extra incentive to write just about anything that comes to their mind, once they are provided with a single “prompt” word. This week, the word was “stamp”, and so I took it upon myself to enter a short piece of my writing. It’s not a story exactly, if only because I find it too difficult to create entire worlds and characters in 150 words, but it was something that I enjoyed doing, as all writing is. In fact, this is a much condensed version of my short story “The Victims”, available on the post previous to this one.

We danced all night. Our feet ached and our throats grew hoarse from the singing and the shouting, but we didn’t care. By the warmth of the fire and the feast surrounding us, we were able to truly relax in what seemed like a millenia. There was no more pressure; there was no more fear of the unknown. We were together, with food and warmth, and we were going to be okay.

Stamp.

The little boy danced on the ants’ nest that had congregated about the end of an old cigarette. He laughed to himself, watching them scatter as he continued to squash them underneath his weight. He didn’t care about ants. It wasn’t as if they had feelings, or even thoughts, after all. They were nothing, and now they were dead.